Gun Laws & Legislation

Bill Kristol: NRA’s post-Newtown press conference was ‘fairly clever in a way’

Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol departed from the mass media’s conventional wisdom Sunday, praising National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre for his widely panned press conference following the Newtown, Conn. shooting on Dec. 14.

During the online-only “Panel Plus” portion of “Fox News Sunday,” Kristol said knee-jerk reactions in the wake of tragedies don’t necessarily produce the best public policy outcomes.

“Look, I think tragedies do not necessarily lead to good laws,” Kristol said.

“If you try to pass a law for 310 million people that’s based on one terrible thing that happened, that we’ve settled here might not have been affected by any of these laws. So I think we should step back and — I’m perfectly happy and I think NRA certainly should say, ‘Let’s have a serious debate.’ There are current restrictions on gun ownership. There are current registration requirements. Maybe they should be extended.”

Kristol explained that based on this reasoning, LaPierre’s press conference wasn’t the mistake many claimed it was.

“I do think, though, that LaPierre of the NRA was much derided for his press conference — which was, I guess, from a PR point of view, thought to be a disaster and all that,” Kristol said.

“But the truth is he obviously tapped into something when he said, ‘Wait a second, let’s step back and be sensible here. We’re not going to change the fact that America is a highly gun-owning nation and that unfortunately some crazy people might be able to get hold of guns, and some evil people.’”

“And would it be that terrible to make sure each school has someone armed?” Kristol continued. “I mean, either a teacher who is there who maybe had military service who gets trained and appropriately credentialed or a sheriff’s deputy who is off-duty, or just a teacher who is there who is willing to go get appropriate training.”

The Weekly Standard editor reiterated his belief the LaPierre press conference wasn’t as atrocious as many commentators suggested, and may have actually helped change the policy discussion after the Newtown shooting for the better.

“I think LaPierre — actually, as a political matter, everyone thought that was just a disaster,” Kristol said. “I think it was fairly clever in a way. I don’t improve entirely of what he said. But as a matter of changing the discussion, saying, ‘Well, wait a second. What about this other side of the equation?’ he may have done some good for himself and for the cause he believes in.”

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